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Thread: The B5 style, and something to do about it.

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  1. #1
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    The B5 style, and something to do about it.

    I ordered a TL-1TB kit that came with this vibrato system. Looking at it, I'm already thinking of improvements.
    I did some research, and there is a company that makes improved parts for the original bigsby, but they don't work on these copies. So, lets pick up on some of the improvements they made, and apply them to this one. Make it a little better over the next couple weeks.
    First, the side-to-side play on the string mount bar needs to be addressed. It needs a 1mm washer right next to the vibrato arm, outside of the bearings (YES, THERES ACTUAL BEARINGS IN THERE!!! ). Remember to lube them.
    Second: The bar that the strings pass under, to go to the bridge, wobbles in its plastic bushings. I'll fix that plastic! NO WOBBLY! Also, add string slots to the bar to maintain string spacing.
    Third: The burrs man.......... This thing needs some TLC with a fine file and a scotch-brite wheel.
    All other hardware and parts on said tremolo will be scrutinized, and dealt with accordingly. I'll do some fit and finish on this one, and document it here. It's going on my TL-1TB.
    Also, I'm doing a GR-1SF that also has a bigsy style. I'll be applying these modifications to that one as well. Cheers!

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  2. #2
    Mentor Trevor Davies's Avatar
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    Hi Gunut75,
    I have the gold version of this for my kit.
    For mine the string mounting bar and the bar the strings pass under all seem quite tight.
    I will not worry about string slots as the bridge slots will keep the strings in place.
    There are a few burrs on the base. Not sure if I want to file them in case I damage the gold finish. I may put a layer of cricut vinyl on the base or place it on paper so that it cannot damage the top's finish until it is screwed into place!
    I am a bit worried about the size of the spring as I think it is too large and will make the vibrato arm too high. (I recall that someone else had this problem a while back but I cannot find it on the forum.) I will wait and see how it sits with the strings in place. I may need to trim the spring a bit.
    PitBull Builds: FVB-4, LP-1SS, FBM-1, AG-2 (Runner up GOTM May 2021), TB-4, SSCM-1, TLA-1, TL-1TB, STA-1HT.

    Scratch Builds: Pine Explorer, Axe Bass, Mr Scary (current), Scratchy Thinline (current).

  3. #3
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    Hi Trevor,
    I also read about the spring. I agree that it sits high, but I have yet to see it under string tension. There's a few videos on it, but I suppose I need to try it for myself. I'm also going to go look for an alternative spring tomorrow at the hardware store. They're cheap here, and I want to see if I can mess with the different sizes, if they're available. Cheers!

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  4. #4
    GAStronomist Simon Barden's Avatar
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    I'd agree with Trevor about leaving the roller bar alone. The rest seems like a good idea, definitely remove as much play as you can! I glued up the two main components on the Allparts Maestro-style trem on my Gibson Flying-V (they just mechanically interlocked with nothing to stop sideways movement except string tension), stopped the bridge posts from rocking and the trem is now very stable indeed.

    People have cut down the kit spring to make it more useable and get the bar at a more player-friendly angle, but finding a shorter replacement will be better.

    The kit mounting screws for the Bigsby unit are often totally inappropriate for the purpose (e.g. long shank screws for use in plywood tops, where a fully-threaded screw is required!). The kit screws tend to be cheap soft metal screws, so I'd always replace them with good stainless steel ones for peace of mind.

    Even real Bigsbys suffer from some of your listed issues. A lot of people think the non-USA made Bigsby Lightning series trems are better built than their USA-made equivalents. I've never used either, so can't say.

  5. #5
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    I probably won't groove the roller bar, but will certainly change the plastic bushings to brass or aluminum. The bar doesn't have any side- to- side play like the vibrato bar , but about .05" of up-down. I can freely move the bar, and if you hold the unit in your hand and shake it, the plastic bushings rattle around in their pockets in the tremolo base. I can't leave that alone (my personal OCD there). I want the bar to be stable, not free floating and moving around.
    It may even not be an issue, but I think vibration transfer through better fitting bushings would better than the plastic loose ones. It is getting a wilkinson roller bridge.

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  6. #6
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    Also, the nut holding the whammy bar on needs to be a nylock nut with a friction washer. The flange nut and lock washer are ok, but moving the bar a couple times it started to loosen up. Add that to the list at the hardware store, with the new screws to hold the tremolo down.


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  7. #7
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    Took it apart because it loosened up completely and I didn't need tools. Interesting sequence of parts. Two different split lockwashers in there, kind of one inside the other (??). Hence the needed nylock nut. The friction washers are decent. Might need one more with a smaller I.D..

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  8. #8
    GAStronomist Simon Barden's Avatar
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    "If we put enough different washers on this thing, one of them's bound to work".

  9. #9
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    Here's what I did. Tremolo arm, orange fiber washer (supplied with kit), tremolo bracket, 5mm fiber washer, 5mm spring washer(to adjust tension), 6mm stainless washer, nylock nut. Adjust it to the tension you like, and leave it. The arm won't loosen, or tighten up. A nice start.

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  10. #10
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